A very special gift.

Wedding. Special anniversary. Milestone birthday.

How can you mark these most important events?

Commissioned bowl for special birthday present.  Porcelain and soil from a farm in Monmouthshire

My most recent commission began with an email but it could have been someone filling in the contact form on my website or, back in the pre Covid era, it might have been a conversation at a craft fair. But the journey begins.

Someone is looking for a unique way of saying something.

Porcelain lasts for generations and has always been linked to ideas of value and beauty. The idea of immortalising a place and combining it with these messages is special. They get in touch.

We discuss the person, the celebration and the place, we talk time scales and budgets. We think about shape and groupings – one piece or several? What will work in the space they have in mind?

They might send me photos of the location. They definitely send me a small freezer bag of soil.

This is the important part.
 soil with rich organic matter

Dig deep. Don’t send me your best garden soil, wriggling with microbes and full of leaf mould. Organic matter burns in the kiln and if there is too much, the finished piece might be full of holes!

I need the subsoil – what lies beneath. It might look like rubbish to Monty Don but to me it is gold! This is what contains the minerals which will colour your bowl. This is what identifies the place.

test piece incorporating soil from the garden of a house near Truro

I ask for a deposit of £50 at this stage. Once I receive it I will test your soil. I will make trial pieces and check for chalk or limestone which, if present, I have to remove. Once I am happy I will let you know that we are ready for the ‘main make’ and will confirm shapes and sizes.

I will keep you informed throughout the project and will send you photos at several stages.

trying out images of cricketers and the club logo on a commission for Teddington Cricket Club
Will you add an image?

A map or a line of text can work well but it can be too much. Sometimes the piece works better without adornment. I can print your images onto transparent film and try them before we make the final decision.

When the work is finished I will send you images to check that you are content. Then I will invoice you. Finally, I will pack your beautiful, unique, personal artwork using biodegradable wrapping and recycled packaging and pop it in the post.

I love making unique pieces for people to incorporate their special memories and personal stories. I can’t wait to get started on yours!

If you would like to commission me please get in touch via email or my contact form. You can also buy a gift certificate which lets the recipient make all the decisions for themselves.

The Gift of Giving

Beyond doubt the best thing about working on a commission is the moment when the client sees the finished piece.  That is when you know if you got it right or not.  So it was with my most recent commission which I had the pleasure of sending on its way this week.

bellmansknott
Ready for handover.

 

I was delighted with her reaction to her vessel.  It is a special birthday present for a member of her family and includes material from the woods on their land and details of the location and architects drawings for the house.

The colours which have come out in the patterns on the vessel apparently match those of the house, which is not surprising given the origins of the material but it is still gratifying to know.

bellmansknottbase_edited-1
Surprises even on the base.

I am particularly pleased with the idea to put the drawing of the house on the base.  It is as if everywhere you look there is another surprise waiting for you, even when you turn it over there is something else to see.

 

But without doubt, it is the reaction of the client which gives me the best feeling.  She was really happy with it and it clearly meant so much to her – considerably more than it did to me as I have never been to that part of the UK.  Up until that point it felt like a job well done but as I handed it over it became so much more than that.

bellmansknottclient1
The finished commission

I felt as if I was launching a ship or something.  I find that these vessels, which are so personal to the person who orders them, are so much more than any of the other work I am doing and I love the warm fuzzy feeling that the hand over gives me deep inside.

bellmansknottclient2
One happy customer.